New Delhi, May 7: India should take the initiative and join other countries which are concerned about the situation in Tibet, and raise the issue of granting full autonomy status to that troubled region in the United Nations, said former Defence Minister George Fernandes.
In an article for the socialist journal "The Other Side", Fernandes described the present anti-China protests in Tibet and in other parts of the world as an issue that needed to be addressed seriously in the international for a, but added that institutions like the United Nations would probably be severely handicapped in being able to do anything in the matter. Calling for a worldwide boycott of this year's Olympic Games in Chinese capital Beijing, the former Defence Minister said that Indian should also start a movement to boycott the sale of Chinese goods in Indian markets.
This action, he said, would help the Tibetans personally, and allow for the proper promotion of their indigenous goods and their industries.
He further said that he was taking up the cause of autonomy for Tibet in view of India's past experiences with China, which in his view were far from being mutually healthy or positive.
Citing an example to substantiate this view, he recalled that in the 1950s when China had made intrusions into northeast India, the Socialist Party took up the matter in Parliament.
At that time, he also took a decision to lead a procession to the Chinese consulate in Mumbai to present a memorandum of protest. The Chinese Consul General at that time said that he was welcome to come without realising the size of the procession that was to come.
On seeing the huge gathering outside his office, the official refused to see Fernandes and all doors of the consulate were closed. Fernandes, in his frustration, threw the memorandum into the consulate compound, which Beijing took as an insult to their leader Mao Zedong.
Strong letters of protest were sent from the Office of the Chinese Prime Minister to his Indian counterpart Jawaharlal Nehru, who said that the Socialist Party was an insignificant and irresponsible political outfit, and to ignore the issue. The then Chinese Government refused to relent, and demanded an official apology from the Indian Government, which was given.